NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — Protesters took to Pine Avenue and several other Niagara Falls streets Friday night marching about two miles to Niagara Falls Police Station in a show of solidarity.
“Wherever you at, show love, show love,” Paul Strong said. He was one of more than a hundred protesters that joined the demonstration.
“George Floyd, he couldn’t breathe and he said it over and over and over. Now it’s time for love to breathe because it hasn’t in a very, very long time,” Strong said.
Niagara Falls resident Mikaila Carr organized the march Friday night in hopes of giving neighbors a safe space to be heard.
7 Eyewitness News reporter Nikki DeMentri spoke with Carr shortly after the march left from Hyde Park. She asked: “Mikaila, to see this many people here with you in solidarity, what does that mean to you?”
Carr responded: “It means a lot actually. Unity was our biggest point here and as it looks like, we’re pretty united in Niagara Falls.”
Several businesses along the route were boarded up. Others closed early as many neighbors watched the march from their porches. Along Pine Avenue, messages of hope were written in chalk on the sidewalk.
“There’s other ways that we can show up over and over again where it counts. In the voting booths. In the community for our young people, in our education system. They’re all changes we have to make and they start here,” Carr said.
Various businesses along Pine Avenue also stood outside giving away free food and water. Marino’s Subs handed out free slices of pizza.
Police were on hand to escort the group and block off traffic. About 30 Niagara Falls Peacemakers walked alongside the protesters.
“After all this. After all these protests we need to see change. We can continue doing peaceful protests, but if nothing changes people are just going to keep coming back out and we don’t ever want it to change to where it does start becoming violent,” Niagara Falls Peacemaker and Niagara Falls resident Martha Limage said.
Before starting the march, Carr and fellow organizers handed out black balloons and encouraged protesters to write messages and names on the balloons.
Once the group got to Niagara Falls Police Station, protesters paused for a moment of silence and also released the balloons.
“I’d like to think that here in the city of Niagara Falls we are hoping to be able to develop a blueprint for conversation and unity,” Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino said.